Category Archives: Gamble

A Simpler Time

An old photo album has a way of taking you back to a time when everything was simpler.  As life today gets busier, there are aspects of those times that would be welcome again.  Christmas is one of those.  Braving the shops near Christmas, I’m always amazed at the frenzy. The real meaning of Christmas is forgotten with the need to meet expectations or to compete with others high on shopper’s lists.

The following photos  take me back to a time when Christmas was simple and special.  It was around 1950 when Mum was a little girl living in Ballarat.  The first two photos are of my grandfather Bill Gamble and Mum at a special time, Christmas tree day.  Not a purple or blue tree, or a highly coiffed real tree, but one plucked from the side of the road, carefully selected to fill the home with Christmas joy.  While there was a plastic Christmas tree in my house while growing up,  I do remember similar pine Christmas trees we had a school, tall, often stooped and adorned with paper chains and lanterns.

My grandparents both rode bikes, their only form of transport then, and my grandfather had a nifty little trailer to go on the back, perfect for carting a Christmas tree…or taking a little girl for a ride.

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The following photos were taken in Hamilton at the home of Nana’s brother, Bill Hadden on either Christmas Day or Boxing Day the following year.  My grandparents lived in Ballarat, but their families lived in Hamilton.  Given the family didn’t have a car then, I asked Mum how they would have travelled to Hamilton.  She suspects they went by train.  How did the trike get to Hamilton, I asked?  She didn’t know…maybe Santa made a special delivery.  Of course, I had to ask how they got the trike back to Ballarat.  Again she didn’t know.  Now I’ve got her wondering.

This is Mum, with her cousin Norma and a special visitor.

0089Norma and Nana’s sister, Rosie Miller (nee Hadden)

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What more could little girls want for Christmas other than a trike or a pram and doll.

oooNow a photo from when I was growing up in the 1970s, not as uncomplicated as the days before television but it was still an unpretentious time.  The year was 1975 and the occasion was the annual Grade 2 Nativity play, a Christmas staple for those taught by Miss Coffey.  Not a fancy costume in sight, but rather tea towels and dressing gowns sufficed. (I was a shepherd).

NativityHere’s to simpler times.


Gardeners in My Family

It was the Afternoons program on 774 ABC Melbourne that got me thinking about my gardening pedigree.  Presenter Richard Stubbs asked listeners how they came to take up gardening.  Was it passed on from someone else?

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I grew up in a gardener’s house and remember constant talk of  Spring and Autumn annuals, Marigolds, Petunias, Camellias, Dahlias, the constant moving of sprinklers and manure.

When Nana came to live with us in the late 1970s, the garden talk doubled and if my Great Auntie Rosie came to visit, well.  Auntie Rosie was Nana’s sister and they had other siblings that were keen gardeners too.

One was my great-uncle Bill Hadden.  Visiting his garden was special.  I remember fish ponds, orchids and a large television antenna tower that I had an urge to climb every time I went there.

This is a lovely photo of Uncle Bill as young man in his parent’s backyard at 78 Coleraine Road, Hamilton, planting seed in neat rows with help from his niece, Margaret.  It was about 1934.

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I too lived at 78 Coleraine Road.  Mum and Dad lived there when they first arrived in Hamilton after their marriage in 1967.  I came along in March 1968 and we lived there for about a year after my birth.  I wish I had have been older to remember the house, which was later pulled down, as that was the family home of my great grandparents, Thomas Hadden and Sarah Harman and where Nana and her brothers and sisters grew up.  Four generations lived in that house.

I showed Mum the photo of the backyard at 78 Coleraine Road and she was able to tell me more about it.  She said there was still a fence across the backyard when we there but it is was then made from  chook wire.   Auntie Rosie had lived there before us and she kept chooks.  After the photo, cherry plum and blood plum trees were planted and an apple tree, seen in the photo, was still there 33 years later.

Uncle Bill had his own home built after returning from WW2.  It was at 80 Coleraine Road, next door to his parents.

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The photo above, shows Mum and Nana, on the left, and Mum’s cousin Norma, right, in the front yard of Uncle Bill and Auntie Bess.  Although a reasonably new house, Uncle Bill already had an established garden and neat concrete and lawn driveway.  He later added a garage and sheds at the end of the driveway.

Alma, another of Nana’s sisters was also a green thumb.  When I visited her a few years ago, when she was in her late 90s, I was amazed at her beautiful potted cyclamen on her back porch. Despite almost no vision, she tended them with care.  She was often found pottering around the garden that she knew so well and was able to move around nimbly.

Advertising. (1876, July 21). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63316883

Advertising. (1876, July 21). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63316883

 

Before Nana came to live with us, she and my grandfather, Bill Gamble lived in Ballarat and I have great memories of visiting their house.  The backyard was small but  the space was well used .  Bill grew espalier apples, among other things, and had a shed with three sections lining the back fence.  From my memory, the left section was a fernery, the middle a utility shed that held grain to feed the occupants in the third section, the chooks.  I did like to admire the maiden hair ferns and their cool, soft foliage,  and the feed shed where I dipped my hands into oats in a large wooden barrel. But I did not go in the chook shed.

Advertising. (1936, July 30). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 1 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64273334

Advertising. (1936, July 30). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 1 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64273334

When I checked my memory against mum’s she told me the left side of the shed was interchangeable, depending on her father’s interest at the time.  He used to have budgies too and I can now remember budgie boxes in that part of the shed and attached to the fence.  She couldn’t remember the maiden hair ferns, but her father did grow Pelargoniums at one point.  That must have run in the family, as the following is a photo of one of Mum’s Pelargoniums.

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The next photo was taken looking across the Gamble backyard.  We have several photos taken from this angle.  It must have been the “photo spot”.  Nana (centre) is  flanked by Bill’s aunt, Jane Diwell and a friend of Jane’s from Geelong.  In the front is my Uncle Peter.  Hopefully the photo shoot did not go on too long as there may have been an accident.

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Of interest here is the espalier apple tree on the fence, the concrete garden edging my grandfather put in himself, the sack of oats and the Bergenia or “Elephant’s Ears” along the toilet wall.  Mum  used to call them “toilet flowers”.

Auntie Shirley, Bill’s sister is also a keen gardener.  We visited her in the past year and her garden was beautiful, a result of much hard work on her part.  She is now in her 80s.

My grandfather, Auntie Shirl and Auntie Jane were descended from a keen gardener, Richard Diwell, Jane’s father.  Richard was a member of the Hamilton Horticulture Society. His specialty was chrysanthemums.  The society often attended shows in nearby towns and the following  item is from 1896 when the Hamilton growers headed to Portland to show of their blooms.  Richard won three prizes in his class.

Portland Horticultural Society. (1896, May 1). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63635528

Portland Horticultural Society. (1896, May 1). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63635528

The chrysanthemums exhibited by the Hamilton growers were impressive, some a little too impressive for an amateur show.

Portland Horticultural Society. (1896, May 1). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63635528

Portland Horticultural Society. (1896, May 1). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63635528

Richard also liked ferns and apparently had a fernery.  He was a keen photographer too, and this is one of the photos we have that he “staged” and took himself with a camera timer.  A selection of plants are in the foreground including a maidenhair fern.

Richard & Elizabeth Diwell and family

Richard & Elizabeth Diwell and family

A garden photo that interests me is from the backyard of Richard’s daughter, Edith Diwell, my great-grandmother.  The photo is of three of her sons, including Grandfather Bill on the left.  This was either at a house in Mt Napier Road, Hamilton or Skene Street, Hamilton.  Either way, they would have only been in the house a short time before the photo was taken, so the garden layout was not the work of Edith.  However, it still gives an example of a 1920s backyard.  There is a vegetable garden, with wooden edging and the boys are standing in front of a Yucca.  A fruit tree stands in the background.

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My paternal side of the family, the Riddifords, did not have the same influence on my love of gardening.  Dad has never grown anything.  Well, at least that’s what I thought.  Mum told me how he thought cauliflowers could be a profitable venture, sometime around 1967, and planted them in the backyard at 78 Coleraine Road.  Turns out there was little market for his produce and that was the end of his gardening days.  We probably ate cauliflower with white sauce for some time afterwards.

Dad’s father, Percy Riddiford, did like to garden.  It was not until  recent years that I came to know how much.

Prior to her death, my Grandma, Mavis, gave me a binder of Your Garden magazines collected by Grandpa.  I knew he liked roses as they lined the perimeter of their front yard, but I didn’t realise his passion went as far as buying gardening magazines.  It just happened that the year the magazines were from was 1968, the year I was born.

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I did enjoy visiting Grandma and Grandpa’s in Ballarat.  A sign, “The Riddifords” hung proudly on the letterbox.   A terrace garden was at the back of the steep block.  Three large steps led to the top of the terrace and I recall that as a small child, I would haul myself up the steps and teeter on the top to look across neighbouring backyards to see Sovereign Hill in its infancy, sprouting up on a nearby hill.  I would cry out that I could see the “historical park”.

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I recently drove past Grandma and Grandpa’s old house to see if Grandpa’s roses were still there.  I do remember them there, but look old and gnarly, not the many years ago.  They are now gone, but suckers grow were the roses were.  A little reminder of Grandpa.

‘My gardening history started in a rented house, but now with a  home of my own, more passion is imparted.  In the 13 years we have lived here, I have gardened through a 10 year drought, dogs, goats, child and recently a plant shredding hail storm.  Inspired by Edna Walling and dispirited by Mother Nature and her creatures.

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My garden is probably not at the point I would like it, but it has changed over the years thanks, I suppose, to the drought.  I started with a range of cottage perennials, including some unusual varieties, but full water restrictions (no mains watering) did not help many of those thirsty English plants.  Anything that survived I have planted more of, and more natives and succulents have come in.

One of my favourite plants is the Aquilegia or “Granny Bonnet’.  It was also a favourite of Nana’s.

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One day my “Zephirine Drouhin”  roses will cover the arch they grow beside.  But every year, just as the juicy new shoots show, two white creatures manage to break into my garden and indulge in one of their favourite delicacies.

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Are We To Have More Fragrant Roses. (1930, September 5). Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 - 1939), p. 8. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57763452

Are We To Have More Fragrant Roses. (1930, September 5). Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), p. 8. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57763452

The Sedum is an underrated plant and one that dates back to 19th century Australian gardens.  It transforms itself throughout the year giving ongoing variety in its form and it can cope with dry weather.  I have filled my borders with different varieties and they never disappoint.  The following description of the Sedum is from 1911.

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NOTES. (1911, March 25). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved April 6, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15231478

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Advertising. (1894, August 17). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65395732

Advertising. (1894, August 17). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved March 29, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65395732

If you would like to get an idea of how your ancestors’ gardens may have looked or you would like to recreate a garden from earlier times, Cottage Gardens in Australia by Peter Cuffley is a beautiful book and an excellent resource for studying Australian gardens right back to Colonial days.

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Pack Up Your Troubles

They should have known something when I suggested we go to Nelson for a few days.   Like last year when we travelled to Portland, I had found a destination that would  covertly satisfy some of my family history needs while still appealing to the other family members.

Back in April, I received an email from Daryl Povey from the Glenelg & Wannon Settlers site.   Daryl had been at the Digby Hall for ANZAC day and spoke to an old school friend, Doug.  Doug had purchased a property near Digby some time ago and had found an army issue backpack hanging on a door in the house.  It was in good condition and had the name Pte E. H. Gamble  written on it.  Daryl  knew of my Gamble link and asked me if E.H. was a relative.  He most certainly was, he was my great-uncle, Ernest Hiram Gamble

Ernest Hiram Gamble was born in 1915 at Hamilton, the third son of Joseph Henry Gamble and Edith Diwell.  My grandfather, William Henry, was the oldest son, and was four years older than Ern.

The following photo is L:  Ern, Norm, Bill (my grandfather).  This is one of my favourite Gamble photos.

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There is a lot in the photo.  The boy’s shoes – aren’t they great?  The boy’s jackets – All different and probably all from different sources, but still Edith ensured her boys looked smart.   The garden – I have an interest in Australian gardening history and the photo offers a glimpse into a 1920s backyard.  The smiles – it is heartening to see this picture taken in the early 1920s.  The boys look so happy and pleased to be together.

In the years earlier, the boys went through a period of separation.  Joseph and Edith moved from Hamilton to Moonee Ponds for a short time, living not far from Josephs’ brother Albert.   My grandfather and possibly some of the other children, spent some time in Ballarat. He even appears on the Macarthur Street State School records.  The  family returned to Hamilton in the early 1920s and three more children were born.  Life was tough at times but Edith, with her happy spirit,  kept them smiling.

In 1940, Ernest married Jean Lillian Watts and they moved to Mt Gambier.   Ern had worked as a grocer in Hamilton with Moran & Cato Pty Ltd a leading Australian grocery chain of the time and he transferred to their Mt. Gambier store.  A keen musician, a love passed through the Diwell line, Ern got involved with  local dances playing with his friend Colin McKinnon. The duo also performed in Amateur Hours such as the following at Mt Gambier in 1942.

Last Amateur Hour on Tuesday. (1942, October 24). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved January 15, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78118758

Last Amateur Hour on Tuesday. (1942, October 24). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved January 15, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78118758

Advertising. (1942, October 24). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved January 15, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78118780

Advertising. (1942, October 24). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved January 15, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78118780

On April 22,  1942, aged 27, Ern enlisted at Mt Gambier for service in WW2.  An appointment was made with The Arthur Studio in Mt. Gambier for a photo session for posterity.

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Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia. BRG 347/4359 http://images.slsa.sa.gov.au/arthur/04500/BRG347_4359.htm

Ern’s work place gave him a send off and he set off to Adelaide for training in early October 1942.

Presentation to Staff Member. (1942, October 3). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved January 13, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78117772

Presentation to Staff Member. (1942, October 3). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved January 13, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78117772

A month later, Ern was given leave to spend time with Jean before his posting.

PERSONAL. (1942, November 12). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved January 15, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78119426

PERSONAL. (1942, November 12). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved January 15, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78119426

At time of his discharge, Ern was a corporal with the 1st Australian Base Ordnance Depot that, from what I can work out, was in Brisbane.  By the end of the war there was an Ordnance Depot at Bandiana in Victoria and I have found this referred to as the 1st Ordnance Depot.  The role of the Ordnance Corps is detailed below:

Men Wanted For Militia.—No. 7. (1940, August 6). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved January 17, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article40949865

Men Wanted For Militia.—No. 7. (1940, August 6). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved January 17, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article40949865

After the war, Ern and Jean welcomed a son, John Ernest.  They were living in Melbourne by that time.

This is another lovely Gamble photo.  Here Edith, surrounded by her family, and with a big smile,  looks so proud.  Ern is back right and my grandfather, back left.  This was from a series of photos taken on  a day the family managed to all come together from Melbourne, Ballarat and beyond.  My mum and Ern’s son John were only toddlers, so I think it may have been around 1948 and Edith was living at 18 Skene Street, Hamilton.

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In 1960, Ern passed away at McKinnon, aged only 44.  Jean died in 1971 aged 54 and the following year, only child John passed away, aged 26.

So that was it,  I had decided.  We were off to Nelson with its great fishing and oh, did I mention we would just happen to pass right by Doug’s house on the way?

We met up with Doug and his wonderful farm dogs.  What a great bloke Doug is, realising the backpack might hold some special family meaning and for looking after it until the day he may find some one who knew Pte E. H. Gamble.

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For over 60 years, Ern’s backpack hung on a door in a farmhouse, waiting for its owner to return.  The story of how it came to be there is not yet clear.  The house was previously owned by Ronald Mabbitt, a Digby man.  He passed away in 2005.  Ron did enlist in WW2, and when discharged he was with the 2/32 Australian Infantry Battalion.    Maybe their paths crossed during the war or maybe Ron was a musician.  Ron must have thought a lot of Ern to keep his backpack so long, hoping one day his friend may return.

Thank you to Daryl Povey for contacting me and passing on Doug’s details.    Your help is always appreciated.

Now I have some homework.   I need to order Ern’s service records from the National Archives of Australia and I am going to ring my Great Auntie Shirl, Ern’s only living sibling.  I picked Mum’s brain for this post but I want to find about a little more about Ern and his family and the instrument he played.  My grandfather played the cornet and I assume Ern was a brass player too.  I will also continue the search for the link between Ern and Ron Mabbitt.


Ellen’s Inquest

Recently I ordered some digitised Inquest records including those of my ggg grandmother Ellen Barry.  You may remember from the post A Tragic Night,  Ellen burnt to death in a house fire,  her drunkenness contributing to her demise.

The various newspaper articles from around the country gave good coverage of the fire including the findings of the coroner’s inquest and her movements on the night of her death.  I hoped that the inquest record would give me more.  The copy of the inquest proved worth it but since then Trove have released The Colac Herald (1875-1918) and an extensive article including transcripts of the witnesses evidence.  Therefore, rather than me describe what the witnesses had to say about Ellen, I can include their statements as found in the Herald

The first witness statement was from Dr Adam who examined Ellen’s badly charred body.  Even though unrecognisable , he was able to show the body was a woman and she was around five feet tall.

The next  statement was from mounted Constable Charles Magor from the Colac Police station.  By the time he arrived, the house had burnt to the ground.  He found what looked like a body and removed it, “carefully” , I might add, to the home of Ellen’s son George Gamble who lived a few doors away.

After the official witnesses, members of the public where then called, the first being Barongarook man William Heron.  He and his wife were travelling home from Colac around 11pm on January 24 when he noticed a light in Ellen Gamble’s window.  Interestedly he had seen Ellen at 9pm and to him, she appeared completely sober.

There is still a lot I don’t know about my ggg grandfather, Thomas Gamble save for fleeting mentions in Colac history books, some court records and more recently his obituary.  From the  reports of Ellen’s death that I had initially found  I had questions about their living arrangements, with Thomas supposedly living in another residence in the town.  His inquest statement reveals a little more:

 

Thomas Gamble had a greengrocer’s shop in Gellibrand Street, Colac.  Ellen had visited him at the shop on January 24th, a visit which seemed more like that of a shopper not a wife.   It is not clear if she paid for the items, however she requested vinegar and the very objects that helped contribute to her death, candles.  She also wanted bread so Thomas gave her 3 pennies to buy a small loaf on the way home.  After a drink of ginger beer she left with Mary Lennon who had also been in the shop.  Thomas noted that Ellen appeared sober then, between 5 and 6pm.  Mary Lennon in her evidence also said she thought Ellen appeared sober.

George Gamble then gave his evidence.  Ellen had wanted him to drink rum with her but he declined and Ellen went home.

DEATH BY BURNING. (1882, January 27). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: Mornings. Retrieved November 17, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91455765

Finally evidence from George’s wife Mary-Ann including reference to Ellen’s grand-daughter Mary Ann as mentioned in A Tragic Night.  She was lucky she was not also burnt death with her grandmother.

DEATH BY BURNING. (1882, January 27). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: Mornings. Retrieved November 17, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91455765

It’s great to have the Colac Herald online at Trove, but I hope I find some good news stories about my Gamble family soon.  Currently my Electronic Friend is sending me stories of Ellen’s court cases with  the most recent from her 33rd appearance before the Colac Police Court.


W is for…What Else Could It Be?

Naturally I had to rejoin the Gould Genealogy Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge at “W”.  W is for Western District and that means a lot to me not only because this blog is called “Western District Families”.  I was born and raised in the Western District and all the families of my maternal lines, going back six generations, chose to settle in the wonderful Western District.

One of the highlights of the Western District is the geography.  Entering from the east, the Western Plains lead to the rise of the Grampians and on to the volcanic plains and green rolling hills beyond.  To the south are the forests of the Otways, the south-west coastline and volcanic Tower Hill .

I will take you on a geographical journey through the Western District, just a glimpse really, beginning with two colonial artists, Nicholas Chevalier and my favourite, Eugene Von Guerard.  These  artists and others, traipsed around Victoria sketching and painting.  Von Guerard also travelled to Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia and New Zealand.  Looking at their paintings reminds me of the lives they lived for the sake of their art.

Chevalier’s sketch shows the Serra Range including Mt Sturgeon and Mt Abrupt at the southern end of the Grampians.

View of the Grampians, Western District [art original] N. Chevalier.
State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/100967

Moving south-west, dormant volcano Mt Eccles near Macarthur has played a part in my family history.  My gg grandfather Reuben James Harman, son of James Harman, owned property at Mt Eccles.  It was also a favourite fishing spot of my grandfather William Gamble.

Crater of Mt. Eccles, von Guerard, Eugene,1811-1901,artist.
Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/46307

I prefer von Guerard’s depiction of Lake Surprise, the crater lake of Mt Eccles, to my own (below).  I remember as a child asking about the name “Lake Surprise”.  The answer:  When you get to the top of the crater and see the lake, you get a surprise.  Fair enough.

LAKE SURPRISE, MT ECCLES CRATER LAKE

A little north of Mt Eccles is the volcanic lava flow, the Harman Valley at Byaduk, named after my Harman family.  In the distance is the source of the lava, Mount Napier.

THE HARMAN VALLEY, BYADUK

To the south-east is Tower Hill, another dormant volcano.  It lies between Warrnambool and Port Fairy.

TOWER HILL

Further south is the famous Loch Ard Gorge, named for the Loch Ard which wrecked on the treacherous coastline.  The only two survivors, Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael were washed on to the beach at Loch Ard Gorge.

I find standing on the beach in the Gorge a haunting experience.

LOCH ARD GORGE

East along the coast line is one of the most iconic views, not only of Victoria, but Australia.

THE 12 APOSTLES

North-west, and back where we started, are the Grampians.

HALLS GAP, GRAMPIANS

The Grampians are a perfect place to leave the subject of the Western District and move on to another “W” which has been a part of my family since the 1860s, the Wannon River…

W is for…Wannon River

The Wannon River begins its’ flow at the base of Mt Abrupt in the Southern Grampians.  It flows toward Dunkeld, around the base of Mt Sturgeon and leaves the Grampians heading north-west toward Cavendish. Along the way it passes by Mokanger , workplace of both the Mortimers and Haddens.  Through Cavendish, it passes close to the cemetery, burial place of members of those two families.

From Cavendish, the river begins a southward journey toward two of the Hamilton district’s jewels, the Nigretta and Wannon waterfalls.  As the river progresses west, the Grange Burn joins the Wannon, having flowed from just east of Hamilton, the city founded on the Grange.  This section of the river was another favourite fishing spot of my grandfather William Gamble.

On the river flows to Tahara and then Sandford. I have family links to Sandford with Julia Harman, daughter of James Harman residing there with her husband George Holmes.  Two children were born their including WW1 casualty Arthur Leonard Holmes.  My gg uncle William Diwell also spent some time around Sandford.  In 1914, he completed extensions to the St Marys Church.

The Wannon River then joins the another great river of the Western District, the Glenelg River, having passed through some of Victoria’s most beautiful countryside.  It is not surprising Joseph Hawdon, travelling overland to Adelaide with Lieutenant Alfred Miller Mundy of the 21st Regiment in 1839, endorsed Major Thomas Mitchell’s description five years earlier. Major Mitchell followed the Glenelg River from its’ beginnings in the Grampians through to the sea at Nelson. It is little wonder all of my direct ancestors stayed in the Western District after settlement.

(1839, September 26). Launceston Advertiser (Tas. : 1829 – 1846), p. 1 Supplement: SUPPLEMENT. Retrieved October 11, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page8723904

After the merge with the Wannon, the Glenelg flows on to Casterton where I have many family links.  My ggg grandfather George Jelly, father of Elizabeth Ann Jelly, was one man who could say he had conquered the river.  His obituary read:

“He was a remarkably good swimmer and by his abilities in this direction was instrumental in saving many persons from drowning and rescuing the bodies of many others who had perished in the river” 

He even dived for the bones of Robert and Mary Hunt, murdered by George Wains in 1860.

By the time the Glenelg River reaches the sea, it, the Wannon and Grange Burn have passed by many of the places my ancestors lived, worked, fished, swam and were laid to rest.

The Wannon River between the Nigretta Falls and the Wannon Falls, about 20 kilometres from Hamilton, would be the section most frequented by myself and my family before me.  My own memories come from family visits, Sunday drives with Nana, school excursions and birthday parties.

The following views near the Wannon Falls are from the State Library of Victoria Collection and were captured around 1878 by  Thomas J. Washbourne , a Geelong photographer.

Wannon River Scene – Washbourne, Thomas J. photographer.Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Victorian Patents Office Copyright Collection (VPOCC) http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/53092

Wannon River Scene Washbourne, Thomas J.,photographer.
Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria – Victorian Patents Office Copyright Collection (VPOCC) http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/52931

THE WANNON RIVER AT THE WANNON FALLS

Of the two waterfalls, I prefer the Nigretta, especially after rain.  The Wannon Falls could be described as pretty in the way they drop off the edge, but the Nigretta Falls are, at times, spectacular.

Nigretta Falls on the Wannon River
Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria – collection: Cogger album of photographs http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/41740

The Vagabond (John Stanley James) described the Nigretta Falls in his series “Picturesque Victoria” which appeared in The Argus.  In the  April 4, 1885 edition of The Argus , The Vagabond wrote of his visit to the Wannon.  He enjoyed the hospitality at the Wannon Inn and then marveled at the “miniature Niagara”

PICTURESQUE VICTORIA. (1885, April 4). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 4. Retrieved October 11, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article6073697

This photo taken in August this year by my friend Catherine, after good rain, sees the Nigretta looking like the minature Niagara Falls as described by The Vagabond.

NIGRETTA FALLS – Image courtesy of Catherine Huisman

It was pleasing to see that the old viewing platforms still remain at the Nigretta Falls.

NIGRETTA FALLS VIEWING PLATFORM

An impressive wooden staircase now leads down to the falls, but the original steps remain.

The Wannon Falls (below) holds memories of walking beyond the viewing platform, down to the rocks and behind the falls, but only when they were flowing lightly as they are in this photo.  A new viewing platform now prevents such precarious escapades, even undertaken while on school excursions!

I have two framed prints of the Wannon Falls by Louis Buveot, painted in 1872.  One hangs on a wall as a constant reminder of Hamilton, the Wannon River and the waterfalls.  The original hangs in the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. To see  the original click on the link – Wannon Falls

The topic of the Wannon River gives me an opportunity to share my all time favourite family photos.  As a little girl when I first saw Nana’s old photo album, these photos captured my imagination.  When Nana came to live with us she kept her photo albums in her wardrobe. I would take them down, sit on her bed and go straight to this photo.  It was near the beginning of the album which had black, much turned pages.

From right: Nana, (Linda Hadden), my great-grandmother (Sarah Elizabeth Harman) and my great auntie Alma’s (Nana’s sister) mother-in-law Mrs Issac William Short (Catherine Gissane Tilley).

They are standing on the original lower viewing deck.   The four photos from a day at the Wannon where originally very small.  It wasn’t until I enlarged them on a computer, that I noticed Nana’s coat hanging on the railing.

I think the reason I like this photo is because Nana looked exactly liked she did when I knew her, but with long braids and I still can’t believe she was only about 15.  Even the small research assistant thought Nana was the lady in the middle when he first saw it.  He only knew her as an older person and does not think of her as having been a child too.

The second photo was taken from the lower viewing deck, looking toward the upper level.  I didn’t like standing here as a child and as you can see the rail was high at the front  and difficult to see over and to the right of  Nana was a gap between the fence and the rocks.  I much preferred the lower deck.

Recent years have seen a rotunda built at the Wannon Falls reserve with information about the waterfall, the local geography and history.

On our visit, the small research assistant said “Look Mum, they even have family history here for you”  He was right. There is a lot of my family history at the Wannon Falls.


My Electronic Friend

I heard from Electronic Friend yesterday.  I had waited for an email for a few weeks from my friend with no specific gender, although I tend to call him a he.  He brings me news of my family, sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes not what I was expecting, but always most welcome.  You may know my Electronic Friend.  If you have ever requested notification of a newly available article from Trove, you will have definitely had an email from him.

My latest contact was about my ggg grandfather Thomas Gamble of Colac.  Trove has been digitizing the Colac Herald (1875-1918) and I’ve been hopeful this may give me more information about Thomas.  A couple of weeks ago, a search of Thomas Gamble found three references to him in the year of his death, 1884.  All where articles “Coming Soon”, so I put in my email request and waited. And waited.

Until now I knew very little about Thomas Gamble:

As I clicked on the link to the requested article, I thought “I hope this is not another False Alarm”.

NOTES AND EVENTS. (1884, May 6). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 5, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88187507

Very interesting.  My Electronic Friend had outdone himself.

The obituary confirms the Gambletown story.  It gives his age when he died as 76, giving a little more weight to the 1808 birth year I already had.  Finally it confirmed, in the most wonderful way that such a matter could be handled, Thomas liked a drink.

“…but a good part of his life he loved not wisely but too well – the cup.  The old man, however, had no great liking for the tea-cup, and in for something stronger and more cheering?’

Over the past year I have read well over 200 obituaries to prepare for Passing of the Pioneer posts.  Never have I read of a departed’s drinking habits, so I think Thomas really liked a drink.  So much so, it was a defining part of his character.

It is the new information that I find most interesting.  Thomas was “quite a character”, “full of humour” , in fact a “chatty, good, humored soul” and “always willing to help his neighbours” .  Until now, in my imagination Thomas has been an emotionless, non-speaking, old man standing in a brick yard!   While I had a lot of information to get an idea of Ellen’s character,  I had nothing on Thomas so it is pleasing to read of his wonderful attributes.

I have had reason to believe that Thomas did have some money at one time.  Mainly because he appears on the 1856/7 Electoral Roll, compiled for the 1856 elections of the Victorian Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council.  At the time there were conditions for voting eligibility. For the Legislative Council, one condition was that the voter owned property over the value of £1000 and for the Legislative Assembly, property over the value of £50.  Thomas qualified in one of those categories, listed as a freeholder.  I had several other ggg grandfathers in Victoria at that time and none are on the same Electoral roll. 1857 saw the abolition of property qualifications.

Thomas must have had enough wealth to travel to Sydney to deposit his earnings.  Or was this just something he told the writer over a humorous drunken chat?  During the 1850s, Thomas had a string of appearances in court with men trying to retrieve money from him.  It does say he had his ups and downs.

As a family historian, the last bit of information is very exciting, but at the same time disheartening.  Thomas wrote his memoirs.  On 150 pages of note paper!  But as written in the obituary, the memoir would probably never have seen the light of day and I doubt it ever did.  Given the snippets I have about Thomas already,  I think it would have been a rollicking read.

My second article from my Electronic Friend was the Death notice.

Advertising. (1884, May 6). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 6, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88187484

The last article comes from  two months before the death of Thomas and gives some clue to the state of his health leading up to his death and his financial situation at the time.

NOTES AND EVENTS. (1884, March 18). The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 6, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88190014

From the minutes of the Colac Hospital committee meeting, it would seem Thomas needed care but had no money and looked destined for the Benevolent Asylum at Geelong.  From his Death notice he died at this son’s home seemingly avoiding the Benevolent Asylum.  Whether he was living at Barongarook waiting to go to Geelong or whether he was taken in by Thomas M. Gamble (aka Mark Thomas Gamble), at least he passed away with family around him.

I am waiting for another email from my Electronic Friend.  The article’s headline is “History of Colac Chapter IV. (Continued). The Township Site—First Sale of Town Lands—Notes of Progress”.  The only available line is “…brick yard of any importance was opened out by Mr Thomas Gamble, after whom the suburb on the south…”.

Until then Electronic Friend.


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